The legislative impulse behind Florida’s proposed libel laws — HB 757 and SB 1780 — is understandable. Conservatives are justifiably outraged by the lies and vitriol directed at them by an overwhelmingly liberal media complex that dominates public discourse. The bills aim to hold purveyors of misinformation accountable by making it easier to sue for defamation.
Alas, these proposed laws are misguided and threaten to undermine long-cherished conservative principles. However well-intentioned, they contravene fundamental tenets that conservatives have long championed — limited government, free markets and individual liberty. By inviting more regulation and litigation, they expand state power at the expense of personal freedom. Their actual effect would be to chill speech, imperil small media outlets and open the door to the very “lawfare” tactics liberals have used so effectively against conservatives.